After a run to the state title game, Fort Osage will have a tough act to follow.
But that doesn't mean the Indians won't still be solid. Fort Osage, which went from a 3-4 start to a 9-5 season and losing in the Missouri Class 5 title game, returns some strong pieces.
"Our team overcame multiple injuries throughout the season to reach the state championship game," said Bult, head coach of the Fort. "The loss lead to a focused offseason and hard work from all members of the program."
The Indians return six starter on defense, including second-team all-Class 5 defensive lineman Giovanni Willis (6-0, 250). Fellow senior Valentino Ulberg and junior Brayden McBee (6-foot-1, 245) also will line up in the trenches.
Senior Trystan Floyd (5-foot-8, 150), a third-team all-Class 5 selection at linebacker after registering 93 tackles - seven for a loss - will team with senior Dakota Robertson (6-foot-2, 215) - who notched 61 tackles in 2018 - and junior Nate Reiss as returning starters. Junior Drake Shipp also returns after extensive varsity time in 2018.
Senior linebacker Trystan Floyd helps lead the Indians defense. (Photo: Darryl Woods, 810 Varsity)
The secondary will return junior Gavin Gilliam along with newcomers in juniors Malachi Woods and Blake Williams (5-foot-10, 155).
Offensively, the Indians will have a few big cogs to replace, including quarterback Ty Baker. Senior Sam Carlson will take the helm at playcaller in 2019, while sophomore Cory Olvera (5-foot-11, 180) will garner carries at running back. On the outside, senior Dominic Myers (5-foot-7, 155) returns as a first-team all-conference selection and a third-team all-Class 5 pick after snagging 34 balls for 586 yards and five touchdowns.
Up front, the Indians return a quintet who saw starting time in junior Tyler Vogler (6-foot-1, 240), junior Brycen Wetzel (6-0, 200), senior Gavin Roller (6-foot-3, 220), senior Justin Dailey and sophomore Steven Gabb. Senior Ryan Bishop (6-0, 285) also logged a lot of time and returns.
"We had many young kids get experience due to injuries and we hope to use that experience to get off to a quick start this year," Bult said. "We will lean on the kids in the trenches where we return most of our experience. Hopefully they can give time for the youth in our skill position players to develop."
Overall, even if the Fort endures another slow start, the Indians expect to gain steam by the playoffs.
"We expect to be ready to go again at the end of the year when it matters," Bult stated.